In Inhuman Citizenship, Juliana Chang claims that literary representations of Asian American domesticity may be understood as symptoms of Americaâ€™s relationship to its national fantasies and to the â€śjouissanceâ€ťâ€”a Lacanian term signifying a violent yet euphoric shattering of the selfâ€”that both overhangs and underlies those fantasies. In the national imaginary, according to Chang, racial subjects are often perceived as the source of jouissance, which they supposedly embody through their excesses of violence, sexuality, anger, and ecstasyâ€”excesses that threaten to overwhelm the social order.To examine her argument that racism ascribes too much, rather than a lack of, humanity, Chang analyzes domestic accounts by Asian American writers, including Fae Myenne Ngâ€™s Bone, Brian Ascalon Roleyâ€™s American Son, Chang-rae Leeâ€™s Native Speaker, and Suki Kimâ€™s The Interpreter. Employing careful reading and Lacanian psychoanalysis, Chang finds sites of excess and shock: they are not just narratives of trauma; they produce trauma as well. They render Asian Americans as not only the objects but also the vehicles and agents of inhuman suffering. And, claims Chang, these novels disturb yet strangely exhilarate the reader through characters who are objects of racism and yet inhumanly enjoy their suffering and the suffering of others.Through a detailed investigation of â€śfamily businessâ€ť in works of Asian American life, Chang shows that by identifying with the nationâ€™s psychic disturbance, Asian American characters ethically assume responsibility for a national unconscious that is all too often disclaimed.
Literature & Fiction, World Literature, United States, Asian American,